Mexican Painters New and Old Washington Mansion Becomes Home for Mexican Cultural Institute. ART

By Louise Sweeney, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, July 10, 1990 | Go to article overview

Mexican Painters New and Old Washington Mansion Becomes Home for Mexican Cultural Institute. ART


Louise Sweeney, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE former Mexican Embassy here, a mansion that once had a sitting room with 14-carat gold walls, now houses treasures of a cultural kind.

The red, white, and green flag of Mexico flies over the new Mexican Cultural Institute, high above Meridian Hill here. The institute, formally opened by the Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, marks its premiere with a triple art exhibition.

"Masters of Mexican Art" includes 50 paintings by such celebrated 20th-century painters as Diego Rivera, his wife Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo, and Jose Clemente Orozco. A second exhibition, "Five Contemporary Mexican Artists," includes works by Jose Fors, Roberto Marquez, Agustin Portillo, Remigio Valdes de Hoyos, and Luis Vatsoto. A third show focuses on an exhibition of photography by Lourdes Almeida.

Among the most memorable paintings are Rivera's "The Girl Lupita Cruz," which shows a tawny, wide-eyed child whose tiny hand is holding an orange chair with a rush seat. She wears a long pink dress, orange ribbons in her black hair, and a quizzical expression. Rivera's tantalizing "Study of Tina Modotti" begins at the bridge of her nose, omits the eyes, but shows us the strong mouth, black curls, and brawny hands of his model. Kahlo's "Sun and Life" centers on a round, orange, smiling sun with human features and one blue eye staring out from its forehead, while around it fleshy green leaves and a tiny gray embryo spout tears.

The most ecstatic and vibrantly lovely painting in the collection may be Tamayo's "Watermelons," in which curves of lush rose-pink color rimmed with green split open and become abstract ideas against an orange and red background. …

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